A workplace inspection by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is usually not a pleasant experience, and it is important for an employer to act and react in ways that will avoid or mitigate fines, citations and/or other enforcement actions.
Attorney and former head of OSHA Edwin Foulke Jr. believes that employers often do themselves a disservice by being too open and accommodating to OSHA. Another attorney and OSHA expert, Eric Conn, was extensively interviewed by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and concurred with Foulke regarding OSHA inspections. “It’s important to remember that OSHA is not your friend during an enforcement inspection,”said Conn. “They are there to fine and city violations.” According to SHRM, Conn believes that if the OSHA inspection is prompted by an incident or employee complaint, employers should proactively direct OSHA to limit the scope of the inspection to said incident or complaint.
SHRM has directed its members to be aware of the following areas of concern for OSHA inspectors in 2014. All employers should provide and maintaining emergency exits and exit routes, hazard communication (more specifically, adherence to OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard) and fall protection. In additional, employers with industrial machinery on-site should be aware of “lockout/tagout” procedures and machine guarding and employers with grain-handling facilities should be in compliance with the Grain Standard.